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Man accidentally shoots himself at Southridge after drug payment goes bad

April 10, 2013

Greendale - A drug debt payment went wrong last month, ending with the Greendale Police Department responding to what officers found to be an accidentally self-inflicted gunshot wound at Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76 St.

According to the Greendale police report, just released last week:

Police officers were dispatched to the mall's Food Court about 4:30 p.m. Feb. 21 after receiving calls about a man with an injured leg and another man seen with a handgun in the men's restroom.

Upon arrival, officers met mall security personnel and rendered aid to Wayne Helstowski, 65, who was bleeding profusely from a wound on his right leg, about five inches from his groin.

Helstowski initially told police he didn't know how he received the wound, saying multiple times that he "must have walked into a pitchfork."

As police waited for paramedics to arrive, an officer stopped Cory Jason, 21, as he attempted to leave the mall. A housekeeper pointed him out as the man seen with the handgun.

Jason was found to be carrying a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, firearm magazines and $1,160 in cash. He was arrested and charged in Milwaukee County Circuit Court with the unlawful carrying of a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor.

The men were questioned at the Greendale Police Department.

During the interview, Jason told officers he was at the mall to make a final payment on a drug debt and that Helstowski - his uncle - was helping by providing the money and protection.

Jason told police he had a prior addiction to opiates and cocaine and had become indebted due to his dependency, but that he had been sober for almost a year. He stated that he had been making payments on the debt over the course of two years.

When questioned about who the debt collectors were, Jason stated that "Russians" loaned him the money and were now expecting payment, with interest.

He said he was uncomfortable talking about the men, adding that when they called him, no phone number or information would appear on his phone. Typically, Jason would be able to see the phone number of the caller or it would indicate "private" or "restricted." "But with the Russian people, nothing appeared," he told police.

Jason explained that his uncle "wanted to not only meet these people who he was paying the debt off to, but was also there to make sure that he was safe and provide any protection he could."

Jason stated that he knew his uncle was planning on bringing a gun and advised against it.

Helstowski stated that he arrived at Southridge Mall about 4 p.m. While handling the gun in his truck in the mall's parking lot, he accidentally shot himself. He reported that he did not immediately bleed and walked into the Food Court to look for his nephew.

Helstowski told police he was embarrassed that he shot himself because he is highly trained with a pistol.

While inside the mall, his leg started to bleed profusely and he began to receive aid from mall personnel. Helstowski slipped Jason the gun and the money without security officers noticing, however other mall staff noticed the transaction and later informed police.

According to the report, Helstowski was arrested for endangering safety and obstructing an officer.

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